With our pilot tours right around the corner, we’ve got West Bali on the mind! But the district of Jembrana and the most western parts of Bali are probably among some of the least known to foreign travellers.
We’ve put together a quick guide to some of the beauty this region has to offer, so whether you’re headed with us on one of our tours, or just curious, you’re in the right place!
Covered by forests with massive flowering shrubs, and crystal-clear lagoons. Plantations of coffee and coconut side by side with lush, green rice paddies. West Bali is arguably the most picturesque part of the island. Sparsely populated when compared with Denpasar, Jembrana’s main town is Negara, which is most famous for its bamboo gamelan orchestra – gamelan is a traditional Indonesian percussion performance, and a performance by the orchestra is a unique experience in and of itself!
Buffalo racing (mecepung) in nearby Perancak, also draws visitors. But for most people, Negara is the stop on the way to the harbour town of Gilimanuk, where the ferry to Java departs from. But there’s more to West Bali than it’s colourful towns and villages.
Medewi beach, located about 20km from Negara, is a hot-spot for surfers and an ideal place to relax and enjoy the waves. The small town nearby can also offer visitors a glimpse of the laid-back life-style before the growth of mass tourism in the region. (Real Indonesia guests stay at the beach-side resort here on the Immersing in Arts, Culture and Rural Life in West Bali travel experience.)
Soka beach is also perfect place to kick back. With its black sands surrounded by lush green forests, encircled by the peaks of Gunung Agung and the West Bali highlands, it’s got views for days. The area also has an element of mystery, and according to locals it’s believed to be the cooking pot of Kebo Iwa, a legendary figure in Balinese folk lore.
West Bali is also home to the Bali Barat National Park. The national park covers 50,000 hectares along the western tip of the island, as well as 7,000 hectares of coastal waters and coral reefs. When you take into consideration the size of the island, that’s a huge amount of space dedicated to preserving Bali’s flora and fauna. It’s the perfect place to enjoy an early morning hike, or a spot of afternoon bird-watching. If you’re lucky you might even catch a glimpse of the Bali starling, also known as the Rothschild Mynah. Bali Barat national park is home to the last surviving flock of starlings, and an on-site breeding program has been launched with the aim of saving the species.
For those who enjoy some underwater action, there’s Pos Dua reef and Menjangan Island. just off of the coast of the national park Pos Dua is considered one of the world’s most pristine diving destinations. It begins as a shallow reef which adjoins the beach, but a short swim will lead you to a majestic underwater canyon, it’s walls encrusted in coral and with a dramatic drop of 40 metres! If that’s a little too adventurous, then the Menjangan coral garden nearby is an excellent place for snorkelling. Many of Bali’s wild sea turtles make their home here and are known to swim alongside snorkelers and divers.
If you’re looking for a truly unique holiday snap shot, then a visit to the Jembrana Regency might be just the ticket! This massive Boeing 737 was abandoned on private property, according to local rumours the original intention of the owner was to transform it into a café or restaurant. The plans were never realised, but the aircraft itself has still become an attraction for tourists.
History buffs should definitely spend some time exploring Palasari Church at Palasari village. This Catholic church was built in the 1950’s and blends traditional Balinese architecture with elements of 12th Century gothic architecture to breathtaking effect. Today it’s known to locals as Paroki Hati Kudus Yesus – The Jesus Sacred Heart Congregation, and religious celebrations are still held there by the congregation of 1,400. The largest congregation of Catholics in Bali.
And if you’re looking for a truly off the beaten path experience, then visit the Dewasana Waterfall and batu belah. Batu belah means ‘rocks cut into two’ and here the falls flow into a pristine pool. You’ll need the help of locals from Dewasana village to find the secret waterfall and lagoon, and after a refreshing dip in those cerulean waters are well worth the trek and you won’t be disappointed.
These are just a few suggestions off the top of our heads, rest assured there are plenty more gems hidden, and waiting to be discovered in West Bali.
If you're looking for even more ways to experience Jembrana, Real Indonesia offers a range of authentic travel experiences for visitors to West Bali, specifically our experience immersing in West Bali and also a banquet at the Prince's Palace in Ubud, and a village inspired adventure!
Photo credit: Marc Emond - Sunset at Balian Beach, Medewi Beach